Try as I really wanted to like Free Guy, I simply couldn’t … because it is one very silly movie.
Two game developers – Millie (Jodie Comer) and Keys (Joe Keery) – invent a video game, but their boss, Antwan (Taika Waititi), steals the idea and exploits it to makes some serious coin. The basis of the game is the same thing happening every day – kind of like Groundhog Day.
We’re in a place called Free City, where there are lots of explosions, gunfire and flames. Hey, after all, it’s a video game. Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is an innocent who works as a bank teller next to his best mate, security guard Buddy (Lil Rel Howery). But Guy changes everything through artificial intelligence. In short, Guy (who thinks people who wear sunglasses are heroes) comes alive … in a fashion.
Molotov Girl (also Jodie Comer), a manifestation of Millie – who Guy is attracted to – inadvertently drives the change. Keys (Joe Keery) constructed Molotov Girl a certain way to reflect his true feelings for Millie. So, in the film, art imitates life outside of the video game, and the two threads form the plot. And … of course, Millie and Keys are out to prove that Antwan stole their intellectual property.
Visually and musically, Free Guy is appealing, but beyond that it’s not much chop. We get video game elements liberally scattered throughout (tick) and an ear-pleasing beat (second tick). The plotting by Matt Lieberman (The Addams Family) and Zak Penn (Ready Player One), though, was all over the place. I felt the movie pulled in different directions and rarely, if ever, found solid footing. It went from violence to laying on the schmaltz.
Ryan Reynolds does all he can to capture the nerd and bravado in his game character. Jodie Comer readily straddles her dual roles as game heroine and designer wanting to right a wrong. And this isn’t the first time we have seen Taika Waititi having fun with his character.
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.